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5 Foolproof Ways to Master the Tricky Art of Color


Ever look at your closet and think, “Wow, I only own black clothing!”? Well, you’re not alone. Many people gravitate to black, white, and gray pieces, because they aren’t exactly sure how to style a bunch of different colors. But fear not! Follow these steps to master color mixing — which is, as the name suggests, the art of matching various hues and patterns in an outfit — and create your own vibrant new look.

1. Go monochromatic.

Ruben Chamorro

If the concept of mixing completely different colors is seriously freaking you out, start with one color, and really own it. I mean, wear that hue — and only that hue — in every piece of your outfit. The easiest way to get started is by wearing coordinating separates or a bold suit. Once you’re ready to branch out more, start mixing in variations on tone, as this model does. Blush and rust are nearly alike, so this outfit counts as monochrome.

Ruben Chamorro

Another Monochromatic Look to Try:

Pearl Button Double Breasted Blazer, ELOQUII, $130; Rust Dress, CHRISTIAN SIRIANO, Not Available for Purchase; Blush Pants, CHRISTIAN SIRIANO, Not Available for Purchase; Milos Earrings, VITA FEDE, $165; Garson D’Orsay Pump, SIGERSON MORRISON, $350

2. Wear not-so-basic neutrals.

Ruben Chamorro

Most people think of beige, brown, navy, black, gray, and olive green as neutrals, but plenty of other colors fall into this category, including metallics. Wearing gold or silver instead of traditional neutrals makes for an outfit that’s way more fun. Once you’ve put on a shiny dress or top, match it with an equally bold pop of color, as seen on this model. Then you’ll really make a statement.

Ruben Chamorro

More Metallics to Wear:

Moto Jacket, ELOQUII, $150; Gold Dress, ELOQUII, Not Available for Purchase; Drop Earrings, MANGO, Not Available for Purchase; Plei Shoe, SMASH SHOES, Not Available for Purchase

3. Use primary colors.

Ruben Chamorro

If you’re really ready to mix it up, begin with the primary colors: blue, red, and yellow. In case you don’t remember from elementary-school art class, these three shades help create every other color. (Red plus blue makes purple, yellow plus blue makes green, and so on.) These tones look great color-blocked (meaning wearing one color as your top, and one as your bottom), or worn all together, as this model demonstrates with her striped ensemble.

Ruben Chamorro

Another Primary Color Style:

Striped Top, CF GOLDMAN, Not Available for Purchase; Nigella Wide Leg Pants, PH5, $285; Garson D’Orsay Pump, SIGERSON MORRISON, $350; Marissa Earrings, LAUREN HOPE, Not Available for Purchase

4. Think about analogous tones.

Ruben Chamorro

All right, I’m going to bring up another elementary-school art idea: The color wheel. Remember it? Basically, it’s the entire rainbow in a circle. Shades that are next to each other here are called analogous colors. Hues that are opposite each other are called contrasting colors.

Katie Buckleitner

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, generally speaking, colors that are next to each other on the wheel look great when styled together. As an example, check out this model’s yellow and green look. Other great combos include green and blue, and pink and red. Give them a try, too!

Ruben Chamorro

One More Analogous Outfit:

Yellow Jacket, CHRISTIAN SIRIANO, Not Available for Purchase; Green Dress, CHRISTIAN SIRIANO, Not Available for Purchase; Siren Earrings, VITA FEDE, $395; Zada Sandal Mules, MALONE SOULIERS, $695

5. Mix contrasting hues.

Ruben Chamorro

Let’s revisit the opposites on the color wheel. Just because they’re on different sides doesn’t mean they don’t go together in an ensemble. The model in the image above illustrates this point with her bright yellow earrings and purple dress. If you want to take your mixing up a notch, try a style similar to the one the model is wearing in the photo below. She’s wearing contrasting colors but mixes tones by pairing a pastel-pink blouse and bralette with a jewel-toned green trouser.

Ruben Chamorro

Another Contrasting Look to Try:

First photo: Velvet Jumpsuit, ELOQUII, Not Available for Purchase; Paper Lily Earrings, LELE SADOUGHI, $150. Second photo: Luxe Triangle Bra, FLEUR DU MAL, $98; Tulle Top With Gathered Sleeves, FLEUR DU MAL, $235; Ardon Velvet Pant, J BRAND (Available at Revolve), $278; Emerald Gems, SHINYMIX, $25

Photographer: Ruben Chamorro
Stylist: Aeyung Kim
Fashion Editor: Rachel Torgerson
Art Director: Abby Silverman
Photo Director: Kathleen Kamphausen
Beauty Director: Carly Cardellino
Makeup Artist: Holly Gowers using Caudalie
Hair Stylist: Bennett Grey
Models: Clementine Desseaux, Nykhor Paul

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